Pak charity suspends work after killings

Updated 03 January 2013
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Pak charity suspends work after killings

PESHAWAR: A Pakistani charity yesterday suspended its operations for three days after seven staff were shot dead in the northwest, where aid groups demanded better protection.
“The NGO has suspended its activities for three days to mourn the deaths. They will decide after three days whether to start work again or not,” said Abdul Rashid Khan, police chief of Swabi district where the attack took place.
The six women and their male colleague were ambushed and shot dead on Tuesday after returning from a local community center.
“All seven victims of the attack have been buried. Police have started to investigate but we are not yet in a position to accuse anyone,” Khan said.
The organization, Support With Working Solution, runs dozens of health and education projects, including polio vaccinations, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Taleban and other Islamist militants are active.
Tuesday’s attack, for which there has been no claim of responsibility, comes days after nine polio vaccination workers were shot dead in a string of incidents in Pakistan.
There are growing concerns about a renewed surge of violence in the northwest.
Yesterday, an umbrella organization of around 200 charities in the northwest held talks on how to secure more protection, said Idrees Kamal, the coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network.
“We are here to discuss the situation and to chalk out a work strategy for the future because we need better security,” Kamal said.
Other charity workers said Tuesday’s attack had heightened fears.
“It has created uncertainty. We were already facing problems,” said Imran Takkar, program manager of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child.
“How can a state protect its people if it can’t protect its ministers?” Takkar told AFP, referring to the assassination of Bilour.
Yasrab Nazeer, provincial program coordinator of Rahnuma which works on health projects, said the attacks were alarming.
“We are really concerned about such attacks. NGO workers, particularly women workers, feel insecure. The government will have to take steps for our protection,” she said. Imtiaz Iltaf, police chief of Peshawar, said officers were preparing a strategy to protect aid workers.
“We are in a state of war. The whole country is facing an insurgency, so we are revising the present security steps and working on a new strategy,” he said.
According to Islamabad, more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.


Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

Updated 28 min 55 sec ago
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Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

  • Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014 coup
  • The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis

BANGKOK: Anti-government protesters began marching in Bangkok on Tuesday from a university in the Thai capital to Government House to demand that the military government hold a general election by November.
Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014, coup and have warned protesters not to defy a junta ban on public gatherings.
Police set up barriers along some roads near the university and carried out security checks on Tuesday.
More than 100 demonstrators walked in a line behind a truck with loudspeakers as police looked on, according to Reuters reporters at the scene.
One of the protest organizers, Sirawith Seritiwat, also known as Ja New, said protesters planned to march peacefully.
“I hope they will let us walk out. We have no intention to prolong today’s activities. I think they will try to stop us ... we will not use violence,” Sirawith said.
Police said around 200 protesters had gathered.
“Authorities will use the law 100 percent. If they walk out we will use the law immediately. We have put forces all around Government House ... if they come in to these areas there will be a prison sentence of up to 6 months,” deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters.
“Police have no weapons. They are carrying only batons,” he said.
Activists complained of a military crackdown ahead of the gathering.
On Monday, Sunai Phasuk, Thai researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch group, said two activists had been held incommunicado at a secret detention center.
“Their alleged ‘crime’ is providing loud speakers for anti-junta rally,” Sunai wrote on Twitter.
They were later released.
The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis, according to international and domestic polls that say corruption is as endemic as ever.
The government has also repeatedly delayed the general election, which was first tentatively set for 2015, with the latest date now February 2019.
Some fear the date could be pushed back again.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters gathered at Government House the protesters were welcome to send a representative to the prime minister’s office.
“The prime minister works hard ... the NCPO these four years has worked every day ... All NCPO members have worked hard,” Prawit said.
Suchada Saebae, 55, a market vendor, disagreed.
“I came since 6 a.m. this morning because I think the NCPO has done a rubbish job these past four years,” Suchada said.
Some protesters held Thai flags and others held signs with cartoons of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as Pinocchio.
Protests against military rule have taken place intermittently in Bangkok since the start of the year.
Some of them have been led by young activists. Others have been attended by former “red shirts,” or supporters of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in 2006 and fled abroad.
His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted in the 2014 coup and also fled abroad before being convicted in absentia of corruption.
Thailand has been rocked by pro- and anti-government street protests for more than a decade, some of them deadly.
The military says it carried out the 2014 coup to end the cycle of violence.